A former Florida A&M University band member became the first person to be sentenced to jail time for his role in the hazing death of a drum major.
A judge sentenced Jesse Baskin, 22, to 51 weeks in the county jail, five years probation and 300 hours of community service for participating in the beating death of 26-year-old Robert Champion.
In a hearing that lasted about three hours, Baskin’s attorney called on several character witnesses from his family, including his parents. According to reports, Baskin was emotional throughout, several times wiping away tears, and other times trembling in his seat. When the sentence was announced, his mother was reportedly “overtaken with emotion.”
Judge Marc Lubet said sentencing Baskin was no easy day at the bench. The 22 year old faced nine years in prison after pleading no contest to manslaughter in November.
“I’ve sentenced a hundred people to life in prison. This is one of the hardest sentences that I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said. “No matter what I do, I can’t bring Robert Champion back.”
Champion was found unresponsive in a parked bus in front of a hotel where the band was staying during an Orlando away game in 2011. Members of the band participated in a hazing ritual, which included beating him with fists and instruments. Fifteen former band members were charged with manslaughter and hazing in Champion’s death. Seven have been sentenced to combinations of probation and community service. One other defendant -- 25-year-old Caleb Jackson -- has pleaded no contest to manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing.
Lubet said he was torn about how harsh of a sentence to give, but thought Baskin was remorseful about what happened. Lubet added that he hoped a year in jail will get the word out that “hazing will not be tolerated.”
The FAMU band hazing case has been the most scrutinized amid a national crackdown on hazing trends that occur on many college campuses relating to extra curricular activities, and social organizations like fraternities and sororities.
(Photo: Robert Champion Family)